One of the top ten health concerns pet owners seek treatment for, in the Newport News and Hampton area, are skin or ear issues. At Hilton Animal Hospital, we see veterinary dermatology cases as being a two-fold problem: First, we address the symptoms your pet is experiencing to get him or her to a place of comfort as quickly as possible. Second, we use our state-of-the-art diagnostics to determine the cause of the symptoms. Proper diagnosis and treatment not only eliminate the immediate discomfort your pet has been experiencing, but also prevent the condition from returning in the future.

Dermatology Services

  • Management of allergies, ear infections, and autoimmune skin diseases. Our goal is always to recommend cost-effective treatments that are in the best-interest of your pet.
  • Allergy Immunotherapy. Multiple new treatment protocols are available for dogs and cats with atopic dermatitis  
  • Parasite detection. We are skilled in the use of skin scrapings to detect parasites on the skin, including Demodex mites, Sarcoptes mites, and Cheyletiella mites.
  • Ringworm diagnosis. We use a number of techniques to diagnose ringworm (dermatophytosis), including Wood's light examinations, trichography, and fungal culture techniques.
  • Cytology. Cytology is routinely used to identify cells, including bacteria and/or yeast, which may be infecting your pet's skin or ears. It may also help identify certain types of tumors.
  • Skin biopsy and dermatopathology. We utilize these techniques, when appropriate, to confirm a diagnosis, or to better define an unusual disease condition.
  • Surgery. We routinely remove skin masses or skin tumors.


If your dog or cat has any of the following symptoms, please schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians as soon as possible:

  • Extreme scratching and itching
  • Chewing of the skin or feet
  • Excessive licking
  • Hair loss
  • Head shaking
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Redness
  • Crusts or bumps with scabs

Skin Diseases

Skin Diseases we commonly treat:

  • Acral Lick Dermatitis – Lick Granuloma
  • Allergies
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Demodicosis - Mange
  • Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  • Food Allergy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Yeast Dermatitis
  • Otitis – Ear Infections
  • Pemphigus foliaceus
  • Pyoderma –skin infection
  • Pyotraumatic Dermatitis
  • Ringworm
  • Sarcoptes – Mange


What is Atopic Dermatitis (Allergies) ?

Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common causes of chronic itching and skin infections in dogs and cats in the Newport News and Hampton, VA area. At Hilton Animal Hospital dermatology cases are one of our special interests. Atopic dermatitis is caused by an allergic reaction (hypersensitivity) to one or more substances in the environment. Various substances, called allergens, can trigger atopic dermatitis. They are often the same allergens implicated in human allergic conditions such as hayfever and asthma.

What are the symptoms of atopic dermatitis?

Dogs and cats with atopic dermatitis are usually itchy. The face and feet may seem particularly irritated. The skin on some parts of the body may be reddened, moist, or damaged due to scratching or chewing. The ears may also be inflamed, and recurrent ear infections are quite common in these patients. Skin infections can also occur. The symptoms usually start when the patient is 1 to 5 years old.

Owners may notice:

  • Extreme scratching and itching
  • Chewing of the skin or feet
  • Excessive licking
  • Hair loss
  • Head shaking
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Redness
  • Crusts or bumps with scabs

How are dogs exposed to allergens?

Many allergens are airborne and found nearly everywhere. Some are present year-round (such as house dust, dust mites, and some molds) while others are found at high levels only at some times during the year (such as pollens). The skin is an important barrier to allergens. When the barrier function of the skin is impaired due to genetics or self-trauma, allergens can penetrate the skin and trigger allergies.

How is atopic dermatitis treated?

Atopic dermatitis can be treated in many different ways. Limiting your pet’s exposure to his allergens is most effective, but not usually practical – it may mean relocating to a different climate! Other treatments are usually necessary.

These include:

  • Immunotherapy (Hypo-sensitization)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Topical therapy
  • Antihistamines
  • Foods high in Fatty Acids
  • Foods that exclude certain Allergens
  • Antibacterial and antifungal medications

Ear Infections

Most of the time ear infections in dogs and cats are caused by either bacteria or yeast. The high levels of humidity in the Newport News and Hampton area exacerbate conditions that cause ear infections on dog and cats. Symptoms are usually obvious, and include ear pain, head shaking, or ear scratching. Some pets have an obvious smell or discharge emanating from one or both ears. Ear infections can be a short-term problem that resolves promptly with therapy, but we often see cases of otitis that have been present for months or even years.

Struggling to administer ear medications?

Ask us about our new single-dose ear treatments that we apply for you in the hospital.

What causes ear infections ?

Factors that allow yeast or bacteria to proliferate excessively and cause problems in the ear canal include allergies, excess moisture or hair in the ear, tumors, or ear mites. Once the bacteria or yeast begin to proliferate, their numbers can rise rapidly in a short time.

How are ear infections treated?

At Hilton Animal Hospital we offer multiple innovative ways to treat new and long term ear infections. Several new products on the market will effectively treat most ear infection is just a few days. Others have been developed to prevent chronic infections from reoccurring.

Most importantly we have to identify the underlying condition that allowed the ear infection to develop. By successfully addressing the “root-cause”, future infections can be minimized.

Skin Diets

Feeding the right diet can have a huge effect on your pet’s skin and coat quality. Veterinary Dermatology relies heavily on anti-inflammatory diets. Many of these diets can be found at your local pet store or supermarket in Hampton or Newport News; but some are only available at your veterinarian.

At your next appointment ask us to review your pet’s diet with you to select a product for optimum skin health.

At Hilton Animal Hospital we rely on 3 common approaches in nutrition to improve a pet’s skin and coat health:

Limited Ingredient Diets: There are many diets offered on the market that are anti-inflammatory to the skin. Mainly they rely on a high Fatty Acid content as well as eliminating some of the common inflammatory ingredients found in some pet foods.

Essential Fatty acids: Fatty acids improve the skin and hair coat and enhance the epidermal barrier. Essential fatty acids cannot be synthesized and need to be supplied. Both omega 3 and omega 6 have been recommended; omega 3 for pruritus and omega 6 for the restoration of the cutaneous barrier

Hypoallergenic Diets

Hypoallergenic Food is a strict diet that dermatologist recommend if a food allergy is suspected in your pet. Although food allergy is relatively a rare disease, your pet could become allergic to foods even after eating the same food for many years. A food allergy is generally caused by the protein source in foods such as, beef, chicken, dairy and corn pork products. Because an animal can only be allergic to a substance the animal has eaten in the past, the veterinary dermatologist would recommend a diet that consists of a substance the animal has not eaten before. A properly performed hypoallergenic dietary trial is the most appropriate test for diagnosing food allergy. Common signs of a possible food allergy are:

  • Continuous scratching
  • Face rubbing
  • Excessive licking of feet, legs and belly region
  • Hair loss
  • Recurring skin infections
  • Chronic anal sac problems
  • Biting and chewing at the skin
  • Ear infections

Barrier Therapy

Protecting and maintaining your pet’s skin is essential to overall health and comfort. The hot and humid temperatures of the Tidewater Area, Newport News & Hampton Va., can be particularly conducive to dermatological (skin care) problems in your dog or cat.

Repeated infections and allergic reactions can severely distress your pet’s skin. Over time the natural protective layer of the skin develops defects that allow allergens and microbes to penetrate.

Barrier Therapy

New topical products are available in the form of Shampoos, Sprays, Lotions, Mousse and Spot-On Drops that will replenish and restore the natural protective epidermal barrier of your pet’s skin. Restoration or enhancement of the compromised epidermal barrier may reduce allergen penetration, microbe penetration, and irritant exposure to the skin immune system.


Topical therapy

Medicated shampoos and conditioners can bring relief to many patients. Bathing removes the allergens that are adhering to the surface of the skin, and medicated ingredients help to reduce itching and control secondary infections.

Ask us which product may help your dog or cat